IPC The Hospitalist Co. Inc. today announced a 21 percent increase in revenue, 22 percent increase in profits and a 22 percent increase in patient encounters for the fourth quarter.

The results from the North Hollywood company that provides hospitalist services were in line with information that the company pre-announced back in January and offered little surprise.

The previously announced results, however, had left Wall Street unnerved because the increase in patient encounters was less than what the street anticipated. The stock, as a result fell 33 percent in a single day, sliding to $30.61 on Jan. 9th.

Since then, IPC shares have come back somewhat; it closed at $35 a share yesterday, before news of the earnings announcement, which came after the markets closed.

IPC said net revenue for the full year 2011 grew 26 percent to $457.5 million. Patient encounters grew 25 percent for the year to 4.76 million. Net income grew 21 percent to $29.3 million, or $1.74 per diluted share.

The company said 2012 revenues should be between $520 million and $530 million and diluted earnings per share should be in the range of $1.96 to $2.06. The guidance is in line with average analysts’ estimates for 2012 earnings of $1.99 per diluted share on revenues of $516 million, said Brian Tanquilut, an analyst with New York-based Jefferies & Co. Tanquilut said he expects some bounce to the stock after markets open tomorrow. “The guidance for 2012 is a little higher than the street expected,” he said. But he said the company will need to exceed analysts’ estimates for two to three quarters before the stock returns to the $40 range again.

“I’d characterize this as good outlook for 2012 but at this point in time I’d still view this as ‘show me the story.’ They’ve got to show us they can deliver consistently.”

Judy Temes